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January 2006

In the last few months more and more  and better and better forgeries of classical pottery have apeared on eBay.


But first some general observations


From Rolf

From the yahoo  group in August 2005


Each one of these painted pottery pieces sends alarm bells ringing - I'll try to explain below.

I'd like to say that I've been fooled by this category of fakes on several occasions when I've bought from photographs sent to us by perfectly legitimate antiques (not antiquities) auction rooms: each time we've satisfied them that our concerns were correct and the pieces were returned to the vendors. This is the tip of the iceberg of a very good group of forgeries: some of the others are far better.


If you're handling these fakes, the most obvious characteristics are:


  • 1. The pottery is more highly fired than ancient pieces - there's a higher resonance if you "ping" it.
  • 2. The pottery is heavier than ancient pieces.
  • 3. The surface often has a soapy feel.
  • 4. The encrustation seems as if it has been washed over the item and has little correspondence to the patterns of spread seen on old pieces.
  • 5. The encrustation is evenly coloured - there's rarely any change on the upper surface.
  • 6. The encrustation is powdery when scratched - although not in all cases, ancient encrustation on pottery flakes and chips but combined with the other characterisitics it becomes blatantly obvious.
  • 7. The tone of the painted areas of the glaze is often darker and more uniform than ancient examples: no variation of temperature in the oven.
  • 8. Stylistically many of the pots are pretty good but the aesthetics and proportions (both of the potting and the painting) are not quite right on many examples. I know this is a vague thing to say but if you compare them to enough genuine examples (even from photos) the different style becomes clearer.


At the cheaper end of the scale of these fakes you can see that they bear too many similarities and the evidence speaks for itself. Out of the context of comparables, and the better examples become harder to discern when basing an opinion from photos, but when you handle them, you know straight away. They just don't feel right.


These pots are now common in the UK, Switzerland, Germany and France (I've seen them in all these countries last year), they are the reason that some dealers on Ebay and elsewhere are able to cheat collectors for large sums of money.


Why do I care? Because these crooks are taking money out of the market: collectors either continue to buy from them and never buy an "over priced gallery" pot ever again because they think they're finding bargains; or the collector finds out he's bought fakes and gives up buying completely.


Either way, honest dealers and honet collectors lose.


My opinions on the high-profile UK based vendors of fakes are there for all to read in the archives of this chatroom.[yahoo group] You've got to ask yourself why they are not permitted into any associations and why I've not been sued by them on account of my libellous remarks (they've all read them).


I'll limit this to individual points, but bear in mind the previous

"general" observations.


  • Xenon ware

Shape of juglet wrong, wave pattern on both is a poor imitation of original, real Xenon red areas are matt but not fuzzy.







  • Red Figure lekythos

Facial type unrecorded - and there's a lot of references out there on them!

Rim disproportionate, though this could be the photo.

White paint (added after firing) has survived just as well as the glazed decoration which is highly improbable.






  • Owl skyphos

 The Greeks did not paint extra-terrestrials. Shape fine (for South Italian) painting bonkers. Rim too crude.


  • Attic Black Figure lekythos

Different patina but still fake. Added white and red are almost flourescent in the images (this tone of red does not exist on this type of pot, in simple terms, it should be purple). If this was coincidental due to the digital images, the ridiculous shape of the pot should tell you that it would have been discarded and not decorated by an Athenian artist, the neck is too fat for the body and the list goes on.



  • Fish plate 

Fake patina, painting incorrect












  • Net lekythos

Usual fake patina, proportions wrong.




I hope this helps a little for anyone to make up their own mind.


I 100% stand by my opinion that these items are fake and if anyone buys an example and can prove it is genuine, I will personally refund the purchase price and expenses on TL tests.

There are lots of honest dealers and honest objects out there - don't throw  your time and money away on rubbish!

Here endeth the lecture.


These were all shown on eBay mid 2005 and all sold.


Fake Classical pottery page 2